This Vanilla Sugar transforms everyday sugar into something extraordinarily delicious! Stir it into your coffee or tea and sprinkle it on oatmeal, yogurt, fresh fruit, ice cream, cake, cookies, muffins... the possibilities are endless!
I'd heard of vanilla sugar in the past. It's often called for in French and other European recipes but I didn't think it would be that different than just using a little splash of vanilla extract. I was WRONG!
Take it from the French
I just needed a little French lesson to set me straight.
I ordered a French cookbook a few weeks ago in anticipation of our summer trip to France. Whenever we travel, I like to explore the cooking of the region before I go to get a basic understanding of the cuisine. While we're actually on the road, there's so much more inspiration, but I find that it's helpful to get a head start.
The cookbook I ordered is Plat du Jour - French Dinners Made Easy by Susan Herrmann Lewis and has some fantastic recipes along with beautiful pictures and lots of invaluable insight into French cuisine. One of the simpler recipes that intrigued me was a condiment called Sucre Vanillé (Vanilla Sugar).
The author was so enthusiastic about this recipe that I ordered some fresh vanilla beans a few weeks ago and made a big batch of vanilla sugar. I adapted the recipe from the book to add extra vanilla flavor. It only took a few minutes to put together and turned out beautiful with lots of tiny specks of vanilla beans distributed through the sugar.
So simple, so delicious!
But as pretty as it looked I had to actually taste this vanilla sugar sprinkled on something to determine if it was worth sharing with you. I had some fresh peaches and raspberries and used both of them for my testing.
Yum!! The answer is an enthusiastic YES! It took the simple fruit, which I have to admit, was sweet and delicious on its own, and made it EXPLODE with fabulous flavor. It didn't take much of the vanilla sugar but it made a huge difference. (And I love that a teaspoon of this amazing flavor enhancer is only 15 calories)
My next experiment with the vanilla sugar was to sprinkle it on our morning cappuccinos. Oh my! Both Scott and I have gotten quite spoiled, and now use the vanilla-infused sugar every morning! Coffee doesn't seem quite the same without it!
What to use Vanilla Sugar for?
So, besides sprinkling this on fruit or cappuccino, as pictured above, what else can you do with this Vanilla Sugar? I'm so glad you asked!
- You don't have to have a cappuccino to use this vanilla sugar. It's also wonderful stirred into regular coffee or tea.
- Use it for anything that calls for regular sugar, it will enhance the flavor.
- Sprinkle it on cookies. If the recipe calls for rolling the dough balls in sugar, use vanilla sugar instead. I used it on these French Shortbread Cookies (recipe coming!) and they were fantastic!
- Use it as a simple topping for muffins or scones. It would be fabulous on these Ridiculously Easy Sugar Top Scones or these Fresh Strawberry Buttermilk Muffins.
- Use vanilla sugar to make simple syrup for cocktails or for drizzling on fresh fruit.
- Sprinkle it on oatmeal.
- Stir it into regular or Greek yogurt.
- Swirl it into whipped cream.
- Sprinkle it on quick bread before baking like this Perfect Banana Bread or this Better than Starbuck's Zucchini Bread.
- Make a babyccino with frothed milk and sprinkle a teaspoon over the top. My grandkids went crazy over this!
- Give it as a gift!
- This Vanilla Sugar makes a beautiful hostess gift or a "prize" for dinner guests to take home. Family, neighbors, friends, teachers... will also be thrilled when you present them with a cute little jar filled with this delicious French-inspired sugar. We're offering the pretty labels pictured above and below (with the colors of the French flag 🇫🇷) to make your gifts festive and fun. To receive these free printable labels, simply let us know in the comment section at the bottom of this post.
Once you start using this French Vanilla Sugar, you'll find more and more ways to use it and when you run out, you won't hesitate to put together a new batch! (Oh, and just a heads-up - when your friends run out, they'll be begging you to make more!)
P.S. Talking about French inspiration, I'm writing this post from our little Airbnb in Lyon, watching the sparkling Rhone river through the open windows)! I'll be sharing more about the flat and our adventures here over the next two weeks.
Café Tips for making this Vanilla Sugar
- You can use regular granulated sugar to make this French Vanilla Sugar, but I like to use half granulated sugar and half cane sugar. Cane sugar is a little coarser than granulated, so it gives it a little crunch. I don't recommend Demerara or Turbinado sugars as they are much coarser. The tiny vanilla beans would get lost in those super coarse sugars. Cane sugar is available at most grocery stores in the same area as granulated sugar. You can recognize it by its color. It's not as white as regular sugar and it has a little shimmer. You can also find it online.
- Vanilla beans can be quite expensive, but I've found them online for a very reasonable price. These are Grade B vanilla beans which simply means that they're not quite as moist as the Grade A variety. But they're perfect for this Vanilla Sugar.
- This vanilla sugar can be made way in advance. Just keep it in an airtight container and it will keep well for months!
- This recipe makes 6 cups of vanilla sugar but it's super easy to adapt. Just use the seeds from one vanilla bean per cup of sugar for fabulous vanilla-infused sugar.
- Don't be intimidated by scraping the vanilla beans. It's actually very easy and will only take a few minutes to do all of them. Here is a great video demonstrating the easy technique.
- Don't throw out the scraped vanilla beans! You can tuck them in your sugar jar and they will add an essence of vanilla to the sugar.
- You can also put them (you want at least 6-10) in a pretty bottle, add vodka to the top and stash it in a dark spot for 6 weeks (longer if possible!) Voila, homemade vanilla from the discards!
Thought for the day:
Blessed are those whose strength is in you,
whose hearts are set on pilgrimage.
What we're listening to for inspiration:
If you enjoy this recipe, please come back and leave a star rating and review! It’s so helpful to other readers to hear your results, adaptations and ideas for variations.
- 6 beans whole vanilla beans
- 6 cups granulated sugar or 3 cups granulated sugar and 3 cups cane sugar (for a little extra "crunch")
Measure the sugar into a medium-large bowl. Set aside.
To scrape the seeds (aka caviar) from the pods, place one on a cutting board, flat side down. Using a sharp knife, place the tip of the knife in the center of the bean, just below one of the curled ends. Slowly cut into the bean careful to only slice through the top of the bean and not puncture through the bottom. Slice down the center until you reach the end of the bean.
Slightly pull apart the bean apart to open then use the dull side of the knife to scrape the seeds away from the pod. As you scrape the seeds from the pod, transfer them to the bowl with the sugar. Repeat with remaining beans. Here is a great video to demonstrate this technique.
With clean hands, run your fingers through the sugar, rubbing the sugar as you go to distribute the beautiful seeds evenly. Continue until no more clumps of vanilla bean seeds remain. Pinch out and discard any bits of the bean pod that you may have scraped off as you go.
Store in an airtight container. Keeps well for several months.
See Café Tips above in the post for more detailed instructions and tips to ensure success.
If you prefer to use Metric measurements there is a button in each of our recipes, right above the word “Instructions”. Just click that button to toggle to grams, milliliters, etc. If you ever come across one of our recipes that doesn’t have the Metric conversion (some of the older recipes may not), feel free to leave a comment and I will add it.